The Plight of Superwoman in the Workplace

We are all aware that most CEOs are men.  After all, only 12 CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are women.  Why does this statistic skew so far toward men having the most power?  Is it because they are more competent or is there another reason?

According to Gene Marks, contributor to Forbes, women are held to such high standards that it is nearly impossible for them to become CEO of a company.  He cites the fact that corporate women are expected to be perfect at all times—the perfect wife, mother, daughter-in-law, neighbor, and the perfect businessman.  Men aren’t expected to wake up in the middle of the night when the baby cries, they aren’t expected to stay home from work when the kids are sick.  Men are only expected to be good businessmen.

Businesswomen must look great, but not too great, in order to have her voice heard.  She must be both feminine and masculine, but not too far in either direction.  She must be willing to listen to the male humor and crude language of her colleagues, but she cannot participate in either.  In other words, she must be Superwoman. Simple, right?

When anything needs to be taken care of at home, it’s mom’s job to do.  Whenever anyone is sick, something is broken, or any minor details need to be taken care of, in rushes supermom- the woman who has a full time job and comes home to work another 40 plus hours a week.

How is one to live up to such expectations?  Why do we expect her to constantly fly in and save the day?

Unlike Clark Kent, we can’t all have superhuman strength and a phone booth to change in.  While there are some expectations that everyone should meet, women should not be held to chauvinistic standards.  Instead, the playing field should be equal and everyone held accountable for their own actions.  Women and men should be given equal opportunities to advance and equal respect as they attempt to do so. 

One goal of Vision 2020 is to increase the number of women in senior leadership positions.  To achieve this goal, men and women must be willing to work together for the betterment of their company and society as a whole.   In order to attain this goal, we must stop expecting businesswomen to be Superwoman and realize that they are human like the rest of us.


About equalityinsight

Vision 2020 is a national coalition of organizations and individuals united in their commitment to achieve women’s economic and social equality. Join Vision 2020 today!
This entry was posted in Vision 2020 News, Women's Issues and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Plight of Superwoman in the Workplace

  1. Susan says:

    Though we’re still VERY FAR from equally represented, as of 11/6/11 there are actually 18 women F500 CEOs. Most ever! Most of them are married with children. They’ve figured out how to do it all and gotten where they are by bringing the best of who they are to a focus on the business. Great role models when we study them.

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